Coaches across Colorado gear up for 2018 fall sports season

La Junta Bayfield football
(Lance Wendt/

Bayfield football coach Gary Heide and Castle View volleyball coach Scott Dowis share a few things in common.

Both of their teams are coming off state championships in their respective sports. Both programs suffered the loss of vital senior leadership. And as of today, both are officially back to work. Monday marked the official start of the 2018 high school fall sports season. Heide and Dowis both spent the day on Monday planning out how the first day was going to be attacked from their end. "We have to get everything organized," Heide said. "We have to see who's there and who didn't show up and start to digest that and know who we have to contact and what we have to get done." For football, no full contact is allowed until Saturday, so there is room to ease into the groove. Right in front of him, Heide sees a group of kids that are primed to duplicate the success that the 2017 Wolverines had. "I want to tell the kids how excited I am to be able to coach them," Heide said. "This is their year and we're going to have a very good football team." A similar feel plays out at Castle View, but Dowis starts his season a little differently than most volleyball programs. Rather than running a high school camp during the summer, he starts it on the first day of official practice. "It's almost like an extended tryout," Dowis said. "We go over what's really important to us, how we execute certain skills, we go over our offensive and defensive systems. We use it as an opportunity so our kids know what's expected of them." That's not necessarily a state championship right off the bat. Coaches are aware of the changes their teams have gone through in the offseason. The SaberCats lost eight seniors from the team that beat Cherry Creek in five sets last November. The goal on day one might be to repeat the same outcome from a year ago, but it's important for Dowis to stress to his players that the process is going to look different. "This is a new team, this is a new personality," Dowis said. "I think what they want to do is continue the kind of success that we've had, but they want to make their own plan."
Castle View Cherry Creek volleyball
(Ray Chen/
Not every program will have a smooth start on day one. As some schools looked to make upgrades to their facilities in the summer, the start of practices will take an unorthodox look. Rampart's remodel of its gym is not complete, so the volleyball team has been forced to find other accommodations. The Rams will practice at Liberty, a District 20 rival, for two weeks. Rampart is expected to be back in its own facility the day before its first match of the season on Aug. 21. But the help that the school has gotten from Liberty has been greatly appreciated. "They've helped us out a lot," athletic director Andy Parks said in a text message. No matter the time of day, no matter the location, coaches across the state of Colorado are thrilled to get their kids back to competition. The marathon of the 2018-19 athletic season has begun.